While commercially bred neon tetras have adapted well to a wide range of water conditions, in the wild they inhabit very soft, acidic waters that are usually cooler than the 25°C (77°F) at which most tropical aquaria are maintained. They can have a lifespan of up to 10 years, or normally about five in an aquarium.
Neon tetras are considered easy to keep in a community aquarium at least 60 cm (24 inches) long, with a pH of 6.0 to 7.8 and a KH of 1.0 to 2.0. However, they will die if traumatized by dramatic changes to their environments. They tend to be timid and, because of their small size, should not be kept with large or aggressive fish which may bully or simply eat them.